As a disabled vet who worked for the Veterans Administration for 15 years, I often wondered how the director and upper management had so much power to literally “kill” patients by fabricating wait times and falsifying medical records just to obtain bonuses without any accountability whatsoever.
Since I began working at the VA as a medical lab technologist my goal was to eventually apply to upper level management since I had a front line view as a patient for many years. I enrolled in an master’s program for health-care management on the weekends and completed it in about three years. I then began applying for positions here locally and all over the country. I had plenty of telephone interviews but never got the job. They were plenty of positions. I applied at the Carl Vinson VA but still no luck. What was disheartening were the people who got hired over me were non-veterans who had no formal education at all.
When I questioned the director about this policy she simply said “you have to volunteer.” I quickly responded “What does that mean?” She just threw her hands up in the air and shrugged her shoulders. Then I began to ask questions among the employees and it became clear to me that they pick who gets to “volunteer.”
Subsequently they train and show them the certain “KSA” (Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities) tasks that all government positions include. After that their favorite relative, friend, or lover gets the job. That’s how “Billy Bob” or “Betty Sue” gets a position that decides on what’s best for our vets. Meanwhile, the man or woman who sacrificed so much for their country so they could one day go to college are written off like collateral damage.
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I even witnessed a person who didn’t graduate high school move up to associate director and sometimes acting director, as well as an information security officer, who never took one computer course, and paid a six figure salary and have the responsibility for all critical and private data. And people wonder how foreign governments hacked into our systems so easily.
So I decided to become a whistle blower and speak out which only resulted in my being suspended, incessantly harassed, and eventually terminated for having conduct “unbecoming a federal employee.” I was even once suspended for using the telephone — “abuse of government equipment.” Of course I retained an attorney, to keep the VA from destroying my life and decided to medically retire due to a service connected injury I had, which had gotten progressively worse as I got older. I still try to attend public stakeholder meetings at the local VA, but they quit having them for some reason; probably because they couldn’t deal with the questions my fellow vets and I would ask.
One must realize that our government has become more corrupt than ever before. I finally became aware that a government employee does not get ahead by doing what’s right, they get ahead by telling the person over them what they want to hear. Hence, going to war over weapons of mass destruction that were not there; then subsequently “killing” vets by falsifying records and wait times. Not to mention unelected federal employees “leaking” information and deciding what is “best” for the taxpayers to hear. Sometimes I feel like our own government is a bigger enemy than ISIS or al-Qaeda. One has to wonder how many more must die before something is really done.
If anyone would like to challenge my statements and facts I will be glad to oblige you —particularly anyone from the VA bureaucracy where I gladly tried to serve my fellow vets in the manner they deserved. I took this letter to the Carl Vinson VA, handed to the director’s secretary and asked for a reply. She didn’t. Instead she turned into “Major Major” played by Bob Newhart in the movie “Catch 22” — “When I’m in I’m not here, and when I’m not here I’m in, you just can’t find me.” To all my fellow vets, thanks for your sacrifice and service.
Alan Richardson is a disabled USAF veteran.